NAL uses a sports team format to provide academic challenge for CMS middle school students. Member schools play an academic season that is just like an athletic season. Games and tournament are structured like an athletic event with games consisting of four separate quarters. Each quarter develops a different skill such as problem solving, teamwork, and quick recall. The questions used are drawn from the core curriculum areas of math, English/language arts, science and social studies.
The CMS league is divided into divisions of five to seven schools. Each school has one or more coaches. By spring each local league has determined a champion school. This school will then represent the local league at the National Tournament, which is conducted through televideo conferencing.
Governing OrganizationInformation about the rules and guidelines governing National Academic League can be obtained through their national office:
Each area has an NAL League Commissioner who acts as the administrator for that league.
ParticipationMiddle school students in CMS can participate in National Academic League. Since NAL competition is structured much like a basketball game, a school must have at least two teams of 15 to 40 students each. Students with learning disabilities are encouraged to participate. The NAL game is structured so that all will be able to compete. Every quarter emphasizes different skills so that different students can participate in different quarters for a total of 40 students on a team.
Obtaining Practice QuestionsNAL publishes questions for official game use only, and specifies that these questions are not to be used for practice. The questions are sent directly to the NAL Commissioners to be kept secure until games are played. At the start of each season the questions that will be used are selected randomly from a large database. Since there is always the possibility that a question that was used in a previous season may be chosen, none of the questions can be released to anyone except NAL League Commissioners.
Since all questions cover the core subjects and are curriculum-based, NAL recommends that students study their textbooks and access other resources such as books and games dealing with trivia questions etc.
Determining the League ChampionNAL Rules and Guidelines explains how league champions are determined:The champion team of each league can be determined in one of two ways and individual leagues can determine which process they prefer to use:
(1.) The champion team can be defined as the one that has the most wins in the league. If two teams tie for the most wins, the team that has earned the must cumulative points during the season will be the league champion;
(2.) the champion team can be determined through league playoffs at the end of the season. It is recommended that each league decide at the beginning of the season which method they will use and not change that method during the season. Doing this will eliminate confusion about which team will play in the National Tournament.